As the tenth anniversary of the first uprising of the Arab Spring approaches, massive and sustained popular uprisings in Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, and Lebanon have shown that the Arab world is far from finished with the question of democracy. In each of these countries, protesters have connected grievances about economic hardships and corruption to issues of governance. They have demanded changes to undemocratic aspects of current power structures: sectarian bargains in Iraq and Lebanon, and military dominance in Sudan and Algeria.

The struggle of citizens of Arab-majority countries for more responsive, accountable, and participatory governance has been long and difficult. Vested interests both foreign and domestic have pushed back, often with great brutality. In Lebanon, the Arab country in which citizens long had the most individual freedom, sectarianism erupted into civil war in 1975. Even after the fighting ended, sectarian divisions constrained political competition and undermined accountability; they also opened the country to ongoing foreign intervention. Algeria's experiment with political pluralism in the early 1990s led into a decade of horrific civil war.

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This article was originally published in the Journal of Democracy.